Brown Rabbits hiding amongst red roses and teal leaves

Chinese Zodiac-The Rabbit Origin Story

Year of The Rabbit 2023

Once upon a time, there was a Rabbit and an Ox who lived peacefully as neighbours in the same field. The Ox was stocky and hard working, the Rabbit was clever and quick.


One day the Jade Emperor announced to all the animals “I wish to hold a race. The first 12 animals that cross through the Heavenly Gates will be bestowed the honour of holding rank within the Chinese Zodiac until the end of time.”


On hearing news of the race, the Rabbit was excited and confident as he knew himself to be a naturally fast runner. The Ox however did not possess this quality and so asked the Rabbit for help and advice on how he could learn.


“Hello Rabbit, because you are quick and lively, can you teach me your ways in hopes that I may become fast like you?” The Ox asked politely. The Rabbit looked at the Ox and replied “I am sorry Ox but you are not built to be fast like me. You are too portly and heavy. Speed is not something that can be learned, you are born with it” he told the Ox.


The Ox was disappointed and walked away from the Rabbit. That evening, he decided that he would at least try to learn how to race and so began his practice of long distance running. Every day after his tiring work in the fields he would practice on his own and eventually he got a pair of ‘iron feet’. These iron feet helped him run day and night without feeling exhausted. He felt he was finally ready to compete.


On the night before the the race, the Rabbit said to the Ox “We are friends and so we should go to the race together. We’ll leave at dawn when the cockerel crows his first of the day.” The Ox agreed and they both settled down for the night. The Ox awoke the next morning to the first crow but soon discovered that the Rabbit had already left without him.


The Rabbit, with his head start ran for a long time with no other animals in sight. “I must be winning this race. I am quite tired from running such a long way though, I'll have a quick nap” he thought to himself. He curled up at the side of the road, under the shade of an old tree to get some rest. The Ox, with his iron feet did not tire and kept running straight through the Heavenly Gates joining The Rat.


The Rabbit was dreaming of a stampede heading toward him when awoke to the sound of paws pelting the ground. They belonged to The Tiger who passed The Rabbit and soon sped through the Gates. The Rabbit raced after him as fast as he could but came in fourth place.


Although The Rabbit ranked and earned his place in the Zodiac, he felt ashamed of the way he had treated his friend The Ox. He moved to a different hole in another field on his return to Earth. His lesson taught him to be cautious and vigilant. People born the Year of The Rabbit are said to posses these qualities as well as quick wit and ingenuity.




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